Geography of Sendai, Japan

Learn 10 Facts About the Capital and Largest City of Japan's Miyagi Prefecture

Scenic View Of River By Trees Against Sky

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Sendai is a city located in the Miyagi Prefecture of Japan. It is the capital and largest city of that prefecture, and it is the largest city in Japan's Tohoku Region. As of 2008, the city had a total population of over one million spread over an area of 304 square miles (788 sq km). Sendai is an old city — it was founded in 1600 and it's known for its green spaces. As such it is called "The City of Trees."

On March 11, 2011, however, Japan was struck by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake that was centered in the ocean just 80 miles (130 km) east of Sendai. The earthquake was so powerful that it caused a massive tsunami to hit Sendai and surrounding regions. The tsunami devastated the city's coast and the earthquake caused severe damage in other areas of the city and killed and/or displaced thousands of people in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture and neighboring areas (image). The earthquake was considered to have been one of the five strongest since 1900 and it is believed that the main island of Japan (on which Sendai is located) moved eight feet (2.4 m) due to the earthquake.

Geographic Facts About Sendai

The following is a list of ten geographic facts to know about Sendai:

1) It is believed that the area of Sendai has been inhabited for thousands of years, however, the city was not founded until 1600 when Date Masamune, a powerful landlord and samurai, relocated to the region and formed the city. In December of that year, Masamune ordered that the Sendai Castle be constructed in the city's center. In 1601 he developed grid plans for the construction of the town of Sendai.

2) Sendai became an incorporated city on April 1, 1889, with an area of seven square miles (17.5 sq km) and a population of 86,000 people. Sendai quickly grew in population and in 1928 and 1988 it grew in area as a result of seven different annexations of nearby land. On April 1, 1989, Sendai became a designated city. These are Japanese cities with populations of over 500,000. They are designated by the cabinet of Japan and they are given the same responsibilities and jurisdictions as the prefecture level.

3) In its early history, Sendai was known as one of Japan's greenest cities as it had a large amount of open space as well as a variety of trees and plants. However, during World War II, air raids destroyed many of these lands. As a result of its green history, Sendai has become known as the "City of Trees" and prior to the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, its residents were urged to plant trees and other greenery at their homes.

4) As of 2008, Sendai's population was 1,031,704 and it had a population density of 3,380 people per square mile (1,305 people per sq km). Most of the city's population is clustered in urban areas.

5) Sendai is the capital and largest city of the Miyagi Prefecture and it is divided into five different wards (a subdivision of Japanese designated cities). These wards are Aoba, Izumi, Miyagino, Taihaku, and Wakabayashi. Aoba is the administrative center of Sendai and Miyagi Prefecture and as such, many government offices are located there.

6) Because there are many government offices in Sendai, much of its economy is based on government jobs. In addition, its economy is heavily focused on retail and the service sector. The city is also considered to be the center of the economy in the Tohoku region.

7) Sendai is located on the northern part of Japan's main island, Honshu. It has a latitude of 38˚16'05" N and a longitude of 140˚52'11" E. It has coastlines along the Pacific Ocean and stretches to the Ou Mountains inland. Because of this, Sendai has a varied topography that consists of relatively flat coastal plains in the east, a hilly center and mountainous areas along its western borders. The highest point in Sendai is Mount Funagata at 4,921 feet (1,500 m). In addition, the Hirose River flows through the city and it is known for its clean waters and natural environment.

8) The area of Sendai is geologically active and most of the mountains on its western borders are dormant volcanoes. There are however a number of active hot springs in the city and large earthquakes are not uncommon off of the city's coast due to its location near the Japan Trench - a subduction zone where the Pacific and North American plates meet. In 2005 a magnitude 7.2 earthquake occurred about 65 miles (105 km) from Sendai and most recently the massive 9.0 earthquake struck 80 miles (130 km) from the city.

9) Sendai's climate is considered humid subtropical and it has warm, wet summers and cold, dry winters. Most of Sendai's precipitation occurs in the summer but it does get some snow in the winter. Sendai's average January low temperature is 28˚F (-2˚C) and its average August high temperature is 82˚F (28˚C).

10) Sendai is considered a cultural center and it is home to many different festivals. The most famous of these is the Sendai Tanabata, a Japanese star festival. It is the largest such festival in Japan. Sendai is also known as being the origin for several different Japanese food dishes and for its specialty crafts.

To learn more about Sendai, visit its page on the Japan National Tourism Organization's website and the city's official website.


Japan National Tourism Organization. (n.d.). Japan National Tourism Organization - Find a Location - Miyagi - Sendai Sendai - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. City Designated by Government Ordinance - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia

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Briney, Amanda. "Geography of Sendai, Japan." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Briney, Amanda. (2021, February 16). Geography of Sendai, Japan. Retrieved from Briney, Amanda. "Geography of Sendai, Japan." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 23, 2023).